Kirby Yates crashed onto the scene with the Padres in 2018, emerging as one of the league’s best bullpen arms. Yates posted a 2.14 ERA in 2018 and a ridiculous 1.19 ERA in 2019. His free agency stock will likely be bogged down by a season-ending elbow procedure that kept him out of the Padres’ 2020 playoff run, but he will be worth every penny he receives this winter. The Angels should rightfully be first in line to attempt to acquire his services.
The Angels have largely been rolling out a closer by committee for the better part of the last five season with Cam Bedrosian, Kenyan Middleton, Hansel Robles, and Ty Buttrey all receiving looks. While Hansel Robles has been fantastic in recent seasons for the Angels, Yates has been arguably the best reliever in baseball the past three seasons combined and would be a welcome presence in the ninth inning. Having the luxury of pushing Hansel Robles’s electrifying arm to the eighth inning would shorten games for a starting pitching staff that was nothing short of awful in 2020.
Yates will likely have plenty of suitors this offseason, but there is absolutely no reason Arte Moreno and the front office should pass on the pure upside of Yates. He will likely command a one-year deal given his recent injury, perhaps in the ballpark of $10 million, the same contract Blake Treinen received from the Dodgers this past season under similar circumstances.